The Love Children

Marilyn French, Author . Feminist $15.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-55861-606-6

Marilyn French's The Women's Room , published in 1977, spoke to a generation. In this final novel, published posthumously, French uses the social unrest of the late 1960s as the seedbed for modern dissatisfaction. Jess Leighton navigates her parents' divorce, the Vietnam War, racism and her burgeoning sexuality with difficulty. She plunges into sex, drugs, bad relationships and life on a commune growing organic vegetables, something she had never imagined back in high school in Cambridge, Mass. A novel that feels like a memoir, there are many beautiful passages and poignant moments, but French tries to cover too much and tells more than she shows. When she pulls back the curtain on specific, life-changing moments in Jess's life, the writing is strong and the investment in the characters deep, which makes the weaker sections all the more frustrating. French's disciples will laud this as a life-affirming work; her critics will dismiss it; but it's too complex and nuanced a novel to be banished into either camp. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/13/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
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